Dr. Jacquelyn Cooper
A History of Hatred
Hatred can come in many forms. Violence, war, and crime are all actions centered in hate. Many groups throughout history have used hatred as a weapon to inspire horrific events. Of these hate groups, the two that are the most notorious are the Nazi Party of Germany and the Ku Klux Klan. Their opposition toward certain racial groups has caused much turmoil—both in the past and present. Both the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party possess similar core ideologies revolving around white supremacy and discrimination of minorities. However, the time period of their control, and the long-term effect of their actions is what sets them apart.
The Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party differ in their history. The Ku Klux Klan has been around since the Reconstruction Era; a time of southern economic and social repair following the Civil War. The Confederates had just lost the Civil War against the Union Army in 1863. The loss allowed enslaved African Americans to be emancipated in all US states, including the southern confederate states. Unhappy with the results of the war, radical supporters of the Confederate Army formed the Ku Klux Klan in 1865. Founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, the Klan had a massive following in the South. According to PBS, the KKK engaged in "racist activity in the South [that] often took the form of riots that targeted blacks and Republicans" (PBS, 2). Furthermore, PBS claims that "in this violent atmosphere, the Ku Klux Klan grew in size and strength . . . by 1868, the Klan had evolved into a hooded terrorist organization" (PBS, 4). In other words, the Klan flourished in the South; they experienced immense gains in support and power during the late 1800s. On the other hand, the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany during the 1930s. Following their defeat in World War I, Germany went into a deep economic depression. Many German citizens were unimpressed by the shortcomings and lack of leadership by the country's government during the depression. Because of this, Germans were looking for a new leader to pull them out of their economic ruin. Running under the official party of the National Socialist German Workers, also known as the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler promised to bring positive changes to the country. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that "Hitler was a powerful and spellbinding orator who . . . [tapped] into the anger and helplessness felt by a large number of voters, attracted a wide following of Germans desperate for change" (USHMM, 3). Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933 and began his slow ascent into tyranny. While the KKK and Nazi Party differ in the time periods they were prevalent, the groups are similar in their ideologies.
The core values of the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party reflect each other in many ways. Both groups have similar values: including white supremacy, the encouragement of discrimination, and violence against minorities. Michael Fisher of Washington and Lee University concedes that "the Ku Klux Klan is composed entirely of white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian American citizens . . . who believe that their race and religion are superior to . . . other colors and religions" (Michael Fisher, 1). Furthermore, he states that the KKK "has mostly targeted African-Americans in the past due to the freeing of the slaves by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War . . . [and] assaults on blacks were commonly committed by Klansmen" (Michael Fisher, 1). From the years following the Civil War up until the present, the KKK has been notorious for committing hate crimes against minorities—primarily those of African American descent. However, African Americans are not the only race that the Klan is prejudiced against. Michael Fisher states in his article that "the KKK has also been known to heavily discriminate against people of Jewish faith" (Michael Fisher, 1). Similar to the KKK, the Nazi Party also discriminated against people of Jewish descent. According to Jennifer L. Goss's article "The Nazis- A Short History of the Nazi Party", the Nazi Party's anti-Semitism was at the core of their values. Goss explains that the main ideology of the party "included the supremacy of the Aryan people and blaming Jews and others for the problems within Germany" (Jennifer L. Goss, 1). Adolf Hitler believed that the Jews caused both Germany's loss of World War I and the following economic depression. Hitler and the Nazi Party's unethical views of the Jewish race eventually led to World War II and the Holocaust. While both the KKK and the Nazi Party possess similar core values, the long-term effects of their actions are considerably different.
Both the Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan have provoked many longstanding effects for today's society. Tom Jacobs of the Pacific Standard Magazine shows the long-standing effects of the Nazi reign by claiming that "researchers determined . . . one quarter of the German population holds mildly or strongly negative views of Jews," (Tom Jacobs, 8) while four percent are “committed anti-Semites" (Tom Jacobs, 8). The Nazi Party caused widespread anti-Semitism during World War II; they even went as far as blaming them for causing the economic depression. The hatred Adolf Hitler and his party felt towards the Jews was profound; it was strong enough that it led him to attempt to wipeout the race as a whole. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states "six million Jewish men, women, and children were killed during the Holocaust—two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before World War II" (USHMM, 8). The Nazi Party devastated the Jewish population in Europe. Even today, survivors still feel the grief that the Holocaust caused. While the Nazi Party is infamous for the genocide it caused during World War II, the KKK's enduring history has also caused much turmoil in the United States. Beginning in the 1860s, The Klan used violence to oppress the African Americans living in the south. Even in more recent years, the Klan still uses threats of violence to provoke deep fear in African American citizens. Tom Leonard of The Telegraph writes that during the "1950s . . . Klansmen bombed . . . homes and black churches, beat up blacks and . . . killed them" (Tom Leonard, 5), and that "the violence continued into the 1980s – four elderly black women were shot. . . in Tennessee . . .by Klansmen who had just taken part in an initiation rally" (Tom Leonard, 7). These hate crimes are prime example of the persisting trouble the Klan causes in America. While not as prevalent, the Ku Klux Klan somewhat exists in the present. White supremacy groups, "Skinheads", Neo-Nazis and various other groups have been inspired by the Klan. These groups incite fear and increase racial tensions within the United States. In both the Klan and the Nazi Party's case, their influence over society has produced many long-term effects.
The Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi party have both caused hatred, horror, and divide in their respective countries. While similar in core ideologies, they differ in their impact on society and the time period of their reign. Furthermore, these groups have diminished the social advancement society has made. The promotion of unjust discrimination pulls society father and farther away from equality. This discrimination of minorities has caused a segregation of races. The resulting racial divide, while not as apparent as it was in the past, causes mayhem in our present society. Discrimination is an issue that needs to be acknowledged in order to incite a change. Even though the horrors of the Holocaust and the lynching's by the KKK are in the past, our society today still feels negative the impact of these groups.
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